Cruising has major negative social and environmental impacts

The visit by Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas to Southampton has raised again the issue of the pollution caused by cruise lines.

Harmony of the Seas

Noxious emissions and air pollution near airports is a major problem but pollution around marine ports is also an issue. In London and Southampton air pollution caused by marine transport is a major issue and there is evidence that it damages residents’ health.  Harmony of the Seas has two four-storey high 16-cylinder Wärtsilä engines which would, at full power, each burn 1,377 US gallons of fuel an hour, or about 66,000 gallons a day.

The Guardian has a dramatic graphic revealing the scale of the emissions and quoting Daniel Rieger of the German environment group Nabu.

“Cruise companies create a picture of being a bright, clean and environmentally friendly tourism sector. But the opposite is true. One cruise ship emits as many air pollutants as five million cars going the same distance because these ships use heavy fuel that on land would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste.”   More

Paul Mills, a journalist, has written about being an undercover waiter on a cruise ship.

“It was hard to feel good about leaving the boat. With debts to pay off, a shortage of jobs at home and families to feed,quitting just wasn’t a realistic option for many of my colleagues. What’s more, it had long become apparent that many of them were getting a far rougher deal than I was.I met an Indian dishwasher, earning approximately $2 an hour,on an eight-month contract without a single day off, who had to borrow money to pay a $3500 agency fee to join the ship. He reckoned he would probably have worked about a year without managing to save anything. Given he hadn’t seen his family for a year and a half and had one of the most physically demanding jobs on board, his story is the one that made me most immediately angry and upset.” More

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Harold Goodwin